The Environmental Unit has been involved in environmental authorisation processes and related work for more than 10 years.  The unit members have a wide range of environmental management skills and have been involved in the application for authorisation for a significant number of large scale developments and multi-disciplinary projects. The aim of the unit is to provide a cost effective and efficient service to our clients, which is tailored to the specific requirements of each project.

Environmental Legal Compliance Sub-Division

A constitutionally protected environmental right has increased the awareness of environmental law in every aspect of decision making which might have an impact on the environment. Companies operating within the South African environmental sphere have an obligation to adhere to the legal obligations, norms, standards, principles and guidelines as contained in South Africa’s multifaceted network of environmental legislation.

The environmental legal sub unit offers the following:

  • Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Legal Compliance Audits
  • Due diligence audits
  • Compliance audits in respect of MPRDA, NEMA, NEM:WA, NEM:AQA and NWA
  • General environmental legal advice, legal assistance and legal reviews

Environmental Authorisations and Assessments

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) is a systematic process to identify potential positive and negative impacts (biophysical, socio‐economic and cultural) on the environment associated with proposed activity.

According to the NEMA, sustainable development requires the integration of social, economic and environmental factors in the planning, implementation and evaluation of decisions to ensure that development serves present and future generations.

The unit has been involved in the following environmental authorisation processes:

  • Applications for listed activities under the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA)
  • Applications for listed activities under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) (NEM:WA)
  • Applications for listed activities under the National Environment Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004) (NEM:AQA)
  • Prospecting and Mining Right Applications under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002) (MPRDA)
  • Financial provision and closure determination in terms of MPRDA and NEMA

Environmental Management Systems

Organisations across the board are becoming increasingly focused on achieving and demonstrating sound environmental performance. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is part of an overall management system that includes organisational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the Environmental Management Plan (EMP). The ISO 14001 standard forms an important part of the EMS of an organisation.

Environmental Services include:

  • Environmental Management Systems
  • Environmental Management Plans
  • Performance Management Audits
  • ISO 14001 development and compliance

Financial Provision and Closure Applications

Closure refers to the process leading to the issue of a closure certificate in terms of Section 43 of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No 28 of 2002) (MPRDA). In terms of Section 41 (3) of the MPRDA, an applicant must make the prescribed financial provision for the rehabilitation or management of negative environmental impacts. GCS makes use of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) Guideline Document for the Evaluation of Financial Provisions made by the Mining Industry.

Closure Services include:

  • Closure Plans
  • Rehabilitation Plans
  • Measurement and Monitoring Plans
  • Financial Provisions for closure

Environmental Control Management

Based on the aspects and impacts identified in the EIAR, a set of Environmental and Social Management Plans (ESMP) are developed for each of the components, to be implemented during project design, site preparation, and construction and operation phases. The purpose of these plans will be to provide the clients project and operational staff with working ‘manuals’ detailing the safeguards developed to protect the environmental and social entities described in the ESIA by leveraging positive and limiting negative impacts.

The Environmental Control Officer (ECO) services offered by GCS include the auditing and management of the following key elements:

  • Objective/operational policy – identification of broad environmental outcomes desired
  • Target/Performance criteria – measurable performance criteria to measure objective achievements
  • Management and mitigation actions/Implementation strategies – definition of conditions to be met and actions to be taken to achieve objectives and targets
  • Performance monitoring – observations or measurements required to determine whether targets are met and auditing to prove compliance with management strategies
  • Reporting – provision of the chain of reporting and clear record keeping
  • Corrective action and response
  • Responsibility – outline of personnel responsible for the management of elements or specific components of the element

Aquatic, Terrestrial and Wetland Ecology

GCS provides a wide range of ecological products to clients in the industrial and construction sector, mining sector, oil and gas sectors, rail, power generation and rehabilitation services. We adopt a holistic approach in the compilation of the various ecological reports. Our teams also have expert knowledge in all relevant ecological factors, aiming to provide the client with an integrated ecological plan which considers all environmental factors as a whole, including the way that they are interlinked.

The following ecological studies can be performed by GCS:

  • Wetland Delineation, Classification and Functionality Assessments
  • Wetland Restoration, Rehabilitation and Management Plan Development
  • Biodiversity Action Plans
  • Ecological Flow Requirements
  • Habitat Assessments
  • Aquatic Macro-Invertebrate Assessments (SASS5)
  • Ecological Baseline Assessment
  • Design and Implementation of Bio–Monitoring Plans
  • Floral, Faunal and Avifaunal Surveys
  • Grazing Capacity Determination
  • Ecological Management Plans

Soil Services

Soil is defined by the Soil Science Society of South Africa as “The unconsolidated mineral and organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants. The unconsolidated mineral matter on the surface of the earth that has been subjected to and influenced by genetic and environmental factors of parent material, climate (including precipitation and temperature effects), macro- and microorganisms, and topography, all acting over a period of time and producing a product – soil – that differs from the material from which it is derived in many physical, chemical, biological and morphological properties and characteristics.” (October 2013).

GCS employs qualified Soil Scientists who are able to undertake the following investigations:

  • Soil Survey and Mapping, Land-Use and Capability Mapping
  • Soil, Land-Use and Land Capability Assessments
  • Soil Impact Assessments and Management Plans
  • Topsoil Volumes and Management Plans for Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation Planning and Implementation
  • Agricultural Feasibility Studies
  • Specific Soil Investigations (for example, to identify clay types or contaminants)
  • Soil Monitoring
  • Soil Rehabilitation
  • Fertiliser Recommendations

Social & Sustainability

Understanding the economic, environmental and social dimensions of your business is critical for many reasons; including effective stakeholder engagement, organisational innovation and sound investment decisions. Your organisation needs to develop the appropriate framework for recognising, measuring, managing and disclosing its material sustainability issues.

Stakeholder Engagement

Public participation is a statutory requirement in most, if not all, recently promulgated environmental legislation. In South Africa, the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No 107 of 1998) (NEMA), forms the basis of stakeholder consultation. In addition, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No 28 of 2002) (MPRDA) and National Water Act (Act No 36 of 1998) place the responsibility on developers to ensure that stakeholders are involved in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process or Water Use License Application (WULA) process, as it may be, for any new development.

Social and Economic Impact Assessment

In terms of NEMA and the MPRDA, an EIA must determine the nature, extent, duration, probability and significance of the potential environmental, social and cultural impacts of proposed developments.

Social and Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) is normally undertaken as part of the EIA process. The public participation process can assist hugely with data collection and analysis. SEIA attempts to predict the probable impact of a development on the day‐to‐day lives and activities of individuals and communities as well as the way in which they interact with one another.

A number of African countries have already included the requirement to combine the EIA process with a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) in their environmental legislation. Combining the biophysical and social components of impact assessment places GCS in a strategic position to apply its wide variety of in‐house skills in a holistic way.

Social and Labour Plans

Social and Labour Plans (SLPs) are another pre‐requisite for the granting of mining or production rights in order to ensure the effective transformation of the mining and production industries. The SLP requires the applicant to report on a variety of elements, which include training, skills development and the economic development of the area in which they operate. In this regard, GCS is also able to assist clients in identifying possible Local Economic Development (LED) Projects as well as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Projects. By combining our wide variety of skills, GCS is able to communicate effectively with the local authorities and communities to identify and facilitate the development of such projects.

A variety of other social products are offered, including, amongst others:

  • Stakeholder engagement and public participation
  • Facilitation of stakeholder and community interaction
  • Communication strategies
  • Feasibility studies
  • Social risk assessment
  • Socio‐economic impact assessment
  • Baseline social surveys
  • Opinion polls
  • Community newsletters
  • Training
  • Social Audits (SIA and SLP)

Sustainability Performance

Effective sustainability reporting reflects an organisation’s ability to create and sustain value based on integrated financial, social, economic and environmental systems and by the quality of its relationships with its stakeholders.

GCS offers the following services:

  • Economic Performance
  • Environmental Performance
  • Societal Performance
  • GHG Emission Reporting
  • Carbon Footprint Reporting
  • Water Footprint Reporting
  • Risk Management Services

For all enquiries pertaining to the environmental unit, information on environmental projects or case studies please contact Magnus van Rooyen

Tel: +27 31 764 7130 | magnusvr@gcs-sa.biz